Off The Map

I promise this will be the last time I plug this movie, but I finally saw Off The Map this weekend at the Del Mar in Santa Cruz. Hey Campbell Scott: good job! When we were making this movie (which Campbell directed), I never thought it would be as funny as it turned out. That’s right – funny. I was expected a family melodrama with wistful mountain views, but the Me & Mrs. Jones bit blew me away. All the cute little dialogue bits that I figured would only entertain me (Never not.) seem to have pleased everyone. The theatre was packed, and my wife and I were not the youngest people there — families with kids and everything — and everyone walked out happy… A real quote from someone waiting outside to get into the 930 show: “Well these people saw Off The Map and they look happy…”

Of course, seeing my name in the credits was fun — I’ve seen it before, but never in a theater full of people who paid to see the movie. I resisted the urge to yell out “That’s me!” or “Yay grip department!” Maybe if we had time for a beer before the movie…

My wife got a little misty-eyed, all proud seeing my name up there and knowing that this was the work that bought her engagement ring. That alone was worth the $8.50 each.

More on the Commonwealth Club event at SJSU

It seems like they really are serious about running through the whole “Blogging as Journalism” schtick. One of the organizers stopped by our class and showed a bit of video to pump us up about the whole horizontal communication thing.

The coolest thing about the event, especially given Jay Rosen’s recent post about how boring it is for these guys and gals to talk about the same stuff at every panel (ah – that’s the catch about evangelizing: you have to keep doing it over and over again to everyone…), is that the audience is going to break up into small groups after the panel and, er, communicate horizontally about some of the questions that get brought up.


Of course, given that Pescovitz announced the event at BoingBoing, which has over 19,000 subscribers on Bloglines alone, those small groups could get pretty big. I call front row!

Once again: Dan Gillmor, David Pescovitz, Jude Barry, David Satterfield, Chuck Olsen, er, Richard Craig, and the whole MCOM 210 gang will all be there. Come and see.

Tuesday April 19th, 2005: MLK Library, 7pm.

The Future of the Mass Audience

Here’s a few links that go with my presentation in our graduate class tonight:

Baghdad Burning: Iraqi woman blogging about her life in Baghdad – she was 24 when she started the blog in August 2003.

The Annotated New York Times: Putting the content of the NY Times together with the commentary and criticism. Anyone who links to a NY Times story in their blog should end up here. Check out the long list of feeds or search by NYT writer.

Current TV: Taking back TV? Let’s see how it goes. There’s already “viewer-created content” online here, and they seem to mean business.

Bloglines: a pretty simple feed aggregator – just register and start adding feeds. Try adding a “subscribe with bloglines” button to your browser to make it really simple.

Small Pieces Loosely Joined by David Weinberger online.
We The Media by Dan Gillmor online.

Another Blogger Talk at SJSU

Next Tuesday night, April 19th, at the MLK Library: Dan Gillmor (grassroots media guru), David Pescovitz (co-editor of BoingBoing), and Jude Barry (ex political-PR type) will be talking about…well heck, it’s being billed by the organizers as “Joining the Blogosphere” and sounds like an “Are Blogs Journalism” mixer — but with reps from Media, Technology, and Culture there, I assume we’ll be talking about some of the Big Ideas getting kicked around in the blogosphere these days.

Appropriately enough, the Prof from my Tuesday night class just sent the email announcing that our class is going. More on this later.

DETAILS: 6:45 p.m., Registration | 7:00 p.m., Program | Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Library, Second Floor, 150 East San Fernando St., San Jose | No charge | Parking free in Fourth St. Garage after 6 p.m. |
Co-sponsored by Roundtable Media and the School of Journalism and Mass Communications, San Jose State University.

Feeds Simplified

Hey Mom – Here’s a good explanation of RSS feeds and how to use them from Yahoo:

What is RSS?
RSS (Really Simple Syndication) is an XML-based format for distributing and aggregating Web content (such as news headlines).

Using RSS, Web content providers can easily create and disseminate feeds of data that include, for example, news links, headlines, and summaries. Other sites using RSS to deliver content to a wider audience include Christian Science Monitor and CNET

How can I use RSS?
Typical applications for consuming or using RSS include:

* Using a program known as a News Aggregator to collect, update and display RSS feeds
* Incorporating RSS feeds into weblogs

News Aggregators (also called news readers) will download and display RSS feeds for you. A number of free and commercial News Aggregators are available for download. Popular news readers include AmphetaDesk, NetNewsWire, and Radio Userland.

Many aggregators are separate, “stand-alone” programs such as those listed above; other services will let you add RSS feeds to a Web page. Yahoo! lets you add RSS feeds to your My Yahoo! page; to make this easier, you can click on the “Add to My Yahoo!” button to the right of each link above.

Another way many people use RSS feeds is by incorporating content into weblogs, or “blogs”. Blogs are web pages comprised of usually short, frequently updated items and web links. Blogging as a publishing tool is used for many purposes: traditional journalism, personal journals, group discussions around a topic, and many combinations in-between.

Any questions?

Let the assimilation begin

UPDATE: I am the Universal Oppressor (white american male). Riverbend is a Woman. With a book out.

Over at Baghdad Burning, my favorite Iraqi blogger has a post up about the American media content pushing its way onto the airwaves:

Al-Hurra, the purported channel of freedom, is the American gift to the Arab world. What they do is show us translated documentaries about certain historical events (American documentaries) or about movie stars (American stars) or vacation spots. Throughout this, there are Arab anchors giving us the news (which is like watching Fox in Arabic). It’s news about the Arab world with the American twist.

Conveniently enough, I was just looking for something as a counterpoint to my Brand America slide in the presentation I’m working on for my grad class. This is the deal: new technology opens up borders, makes them irrelevant, and this is a two-way cultural exchange. America gets tastes of other cultures and other cultures get tastes of America, right? Except for the small problem that Brand America tends to have a reach of oh, say, a billion viewers or three, while Riverbend at Baghdad Burning has about 2800 people linking to him her (which is a HUGE number for a blog – he’s currently #48 on Technorati’s Top 100).

So much for a two-way exchange. Imagine that for each person linking to Baghdad Burning, there’s a million people being reached by American broadcast media. Ugh.

Feed Me

WARNING: I am about to GO SCOBLE.

So I get my “I’ve got a shiny new website” email from my personal all-time favorite candidate for president, Ohio Congressman Dennis J. Kucinich, and I check out the site.

It’s great.

Much slicker than what he had up during the 2004 race. There’s video, a little flashy looking stuff, a forum (eh), and even a clearly-not-a-blog “Report From Washington” on the front page. Great, so I’ll just look for a little orange button…

Hmm. Brand new website – no little orange buttons…

No problem, I’ll just hit my little “Subscribe With Bloglines” button on my browser then.

Gee, no feeds.

Well, let’s see – there’s a link off to the left here to all the video, that one surely must have a feed of some sort…



Let’s see how quick my email to them gets answered. I’ll update here when it happens.

UPDATE: Okay, in the time it took me to write that post, a volunteer from the Re-Elect Congressman Kucinich Committee replied to my email to let me know she had forwarded my rant to the website staff, and thanked me for the suggestion. The system is intelligent.
2nd UPDATE: Alright, now she writes me again to let me know they’re working on it. No timetable offered, but more of the “thanks for your continuing input” kind of pleasantness. I like that.

The Annotated New York Times

Whoa. Scoble does (whoops, left something out) DOES NOT think this awesome site is as cool as Memeorandum, but I side with Steve Rubel on this one.

The Annotated Times throws together aggregates a page of NY Times stories along with a link to blogs that are linking to each story.

What’s more, there’s a list of about a zillion RSS Feeds, where you can subscribe to either the NYT on a certain subject (as broad as “Elections” or as narrow as “Assassinations and Attempted Assassinations”) OR the blogs that are linking to/commenting on the NYT stories on said subject.

It’s the coolest news & commentary site I’ve seen yet.

Current Work

What I’m working on this week:

–Finished reading The Future Of The Mass Audience, starting my powerpoint presentation of half of it for my grad class. Check out the beyond bullets blog to get an idea of where I’m headed with my presentation style, which, of course, does not exist, because I have never done this before. Yes, in just 11 days I will no longer be a powerpoint virgin.

–Reading the newest version of Bagdikian’s Media Monopoly – I read a pressing of it from 1984 or so over Christmas, and all I can say is gee whiz has the bitterness built up in Ben over the years. Seriously, wouldn’t you be pissed if in the 20 years since you had written this book the first time the number of media conglomerates which control the majority of what we humans see, read, hear, and possibly think had shrunk from 50 to 5? How many big media conglomerates will there be in 20 more years? .5?

–Finished reading The Cluetrain Manifesto, not for class but just for actual enrichment. I highly recommend it to anyone into Marketing or PR in any form.

Time out, why is there a big stinging wasp-like thing in my house? Crap.

Okay, she’s out safely in the garden.

Anyway, I’m keeping pretty busy with school – in addition to the aforementioned reading, the Term Paper for my grad class is looming large, and the day before my presentation of the Mass Audience book I have an in-class essay-style midterm in my American Political Thought class. Federalist Papers, here I come! Remember, Madison is a jerk, but not as much of a jerk as Hamilton.

Off to work…

In San Francisco Today

I am now an official cliche. I am sitting in a Starbuck’s in San Francisco with my notebook computer hooked up to the wireless, and I am blogging. Ugh. If it can get any sillier, Leonard Cohen is on their stereo satellite radio.

A few amusing sightings today, but given my city years, it takes more than a conversation with a homeless man in the public library elevator to amuse me.

No, the oddest piece of culture I spotted today were the words “Post structuralism” written in permanent black marker on a store window – ROSS, in fact.

is something I tripped over in the run-up to my application to that other graduate program. Frankly, I still don’t quite get it – but I’m quite a few books away from having time for postmodern philosophy right now.

Was the graffito a protest to the structuralism of ROSS, with its categories and sizes, or perhaps the words were meant to reinforce the truly deconstructionist nature of shopping for clothing (as I have, happily), which has been rejected by the major retailers, which is imperfect, which has trouble fitting into categories (think of pants that are size 48 waist, 24 inseam – this is ROSS).

There is also the rejection of structure inside ROSS, a dismantling applied by customers, a randomization of objects as humans mill about picking things up and putting things down, deciding on which eight-dollar-dress/shirt/pair-of-dress-shoes will complete that stray outfit in the back of their closet.

If you are the philosophy major who bothered to tag the glass in question, drop a line to or comment here to explain your own ROSS theory.

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